Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee
₹ 249

Foreword: Shyam Benegal
Special note: Atanu Ghosh
Blue Pencil, Delhi, 2021
Hardbound: 84 + 8 photo pages

The idea of this book stems from the many discussions the author had with Soumitra Chatterjee over the last few years. This is not a biography. Nor a hagiography of a bright star of the collective mental sky.

The book holds the author’s many anxieties, questions, hazy perceptions, and unresolved miseries. In the discussions, there have been some common themes – separation, return, fear, and death. Then painting, poetry, reading. The themes repeat though not in this same order.

For the last six decades, Soumitra Chatterjee has been revered, followed, worshipped – he had been a way of life, for many. There is no doubt that he is a product of our time, our culture for over half a century. Yet, he knew the secret to transcend time and culture in the most magical way.

Probably he approached life with openness and generosity which is why he seemed transparent, yet arty. He could sport naturalism as his ego, less judgmental and hungry. Fastidious about his own art he was liberal to concepts, who perfected a sense of emotional detachment in order to engage himself in a mental and esoteric travel to other eras, other moments in history.

Just like a good cinema must reflect some good shots, good writing must also leave behind, apart from others, a few good sentences. The silent steals, the distant murmurs, the broken dreams. A memoir needs to teem with unfulfilled love, the moments of grief and pain. And silence.

This book is written in the present tense throughout. In discussions of soul time freezes, fleets, and flies. In these, we probe the boundaries of words. What is left to thinking if there aren’t words as friezes?

In the Media
By Gautam Chintamani | May 30, 2021
At the time of his death in November 2020 following COVID-19 complications, he was preceded perhaps by only Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray when it came to reverence. Noted author and film historian Gautam Chintamani reviews
Review on  
By Shoma A Chatterji | May 28, 2021
Amitava Nag's incredible book of conversations with Soumitra Chatterjee reads like an intimate close-up of the screen icon's life. Noted film scholar and critic Shoma A Chatterji reviews.
Review on  
By Book Extract | January 18, 2021
‘This book is not on cinema as such but on reflections on life by a star who was always human as he shared parts of his life with a much younger friend,’ says Nag of his book ‘Murmurs’
Review on  
By Sathya Saran | 18 January 2021
Noted author and editor Sathya Saran reviews Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee in The Hindu Business Line *The setting for these meetings is a garage turned into a very basic study with a low roof where the sunlight often struggles to enter *We learn that he is inspired by Tagore as a painter, and not, as one would expect, Satyajit Ray *Nag also draws out Chatterjee’s admiration for Pele, Gary Sobers, and to an extent Tendulkar
Review on  
By | January 5, 2021
Amitava Akash Nag’s New book Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee is a memoir unlike any other. An introspective and ruminative recollection of the author’s conversations with the late actor, the book offers us an intimate look at the man who was much more than an actor. “In cinema, I did reject roles on merit at times. I was never very perturbed about remunerations a role may offer. Why else do you think I rejected the offers from Bombay? Even from Hrishikesh Mukherjee. But in hindsight, a stint in Bombay would have secured the future, he fiddles with his ancient non-touchscreen, petite mobile phone.” – An excerpt from the book. Cinemaazi Magazine publishes a beautiful preview of the book along with excerpts from the book.
By Learning and Creativity | January 4, 2021
Noted film critic and documentary film maker Subha Das Mollick previewed ‘Murmurs’ and mentioned — “It is not an easy task to hook the reader with stream of consciousness words, phrases, sentences through 90 pages and 19 chapters. Amitava Nag’s book Murmurs: Silent steals with Soumitra Chatterjee succeeds in keeping his reader hooked as he weaves an abstract tapestry with fragments of memory around the author’s numerous engagements with Soumitra Chatterjee…..”
By | January 2, 2021
An excerpt from a new essay of conversations with the legendary actor – “Frankly, I never thought it like this. Yes, I was lucky in the initial days with my choice of films. I think you have a point. It will be a privilege to be compared with Tendulkar, any day, he flashes his brilliant smile in happy sustenance.” Don’t miss this intimate conversation with Soumitra Chatterjee. ~ carries an excerpt of Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee
By The Space Ink Magazine | January 13, 2021
“A teenage boy stood and waited outside the gate of the actor Soumitra Chatterjee’s house hoping to catch a glimpse of the then-sexagenarian legend. Over the years that boy managed to befriend the legend away from his screen life. Starting with an interview back in 2009, author Amitava Nag and Soumitra Chatterjee weaved a warm and translucent friendship that transcended the barrier that usually exists between actors and their admirers” – Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee is a result of that wonderful friendship.
By therewillbetime
The book gives a rare and personalized inside view of the mind-space of a cultural icon of our times. Amitava can bring us that.
By Sharmila Tagore
Amitava Nag’s “Murmurs” is a gentle conversation with Soumitra Chatterjee about everything that was integral to him. It gives us a glimpse into his personal life and an insight into his creative, poetic and liberal mind. Soumitra’s presence in every chapter makes it a huge treat for me.
By Mamoun | 9 August 2021
I've been sawing through green wood in my memoir. To mix metaphors,I suddenly saw the rabbit and had to go after it. As you no doubt know: all portraits are self portraits. And MURMURS is more than most. Rumination, free associations, even non sequiturs and love for a man and an artist.
I have not seen most of the films that you mentioned. But thank you for the words, the images and thoughts. I think I wasted the moments that I had with Soumitra. What I asked was commonplace and banal. Your book has told me what I, we, might have done: sat in silence together.
(Mamoun Hassan was the head of production of the British Film Institute and later managing director of the National Film Finance Corporation, UK. He worked as a film producer, screenwriter, consultant, lecturer and teacher of cinema.)
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